- SUNRISE AT MACHU PICCHU!
- Wander the cobblestone streets of Cuzco.
- Make a pitstop in Ica to see the extraordinary desert village of Huacachina.
- Eat ceviche in Lima and walk around the Miraflores district for great ocean views.
- Hike to Laguna 69.
- Relax in one of the many surf towns along the coast.
- Travel with anything of value.
- Eat Cuy. It's actually the worst thing I've ever had.
Firsthand experiences with theft seemed to be a popular topic of conversation every time the word Peru was mentioned. It got to the point where I truly wanted to meet a person who hadn’t had some sort of incident with thieves while there. As much as these stories put me on edge and made me slightly paranoid, I needed to experience this intriguing Latin American country for myself.
Entering Peru from the Bolivian/Peruvian border of Lake Titicaca, I had 5 days to somehow get myself to Lima and squeeze in everything I wanted to see before my flight home. I simply ran out of time and money. So after spending a weekend lakeside on Titicaca, the race was on.
Cusco was the first stop. A vibrant city where indigenous culture meets the western world. It’s a fascinating place with so much to discover on every corner. We spent two days here exploring the city, taking in the culture and checking out the cool cafes. For a great guide on must see's in Cusco, visit The Wandering Blonde.
Next, we took the Inca Rail to Aguas Calientes. Not only is this the ‘base camp’ for Machu Picchu, but it’s home to an abundance of natural hot springs. Hence the name 'Aguas Calientes' (hot waters).
In my opinion, you can do Machu Picchu in two ways. Either hike the 4 day Inca trail or get on the first morning bus out of Aguas Calientes for sunrise. Be sure to buy your bus ticket the day before as you won’t want to deal with the morning queues. You can even walk to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, which will take you anywhere from 60-80 minutes. I would recommend at least taking the bus to MP as it's quite the uphill hike. Buses begin departing at 5:30am and run every 20 minutes until 5:30pm. Definitely get to the bus stop around 5am in order to get a somewhat decent spot in line. Tickets are $4.50 one way or $9 return.
Sunrise at Machu Picchu is a must. Not only will this get you there before the tour groups, but the peace you feel sitting atop of a mountain, watching the rays of sunlight slowly inch across every stone block in the valley is unforgettable. This will forever be one of the best sunrises I've ever experienced.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Machu Picchu is at a whopping 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. Make sure you properly prepare yourself for the high altitude to get the most out of your trip. I purchased some coca candies in Cuzco and drank heaps of water, but The GypsyNesters have some more great tips on how to avoid altitude sickness.
After wandering around the grounds, playing with llamas and doing some yoga among the ruins, it was time to catch the train back to Cuzco where our overnight bus to Lima awaited us. Why we didn’t just fly boggles me. I guess if we flew we would have never ended up in Huacachina.
A little desert oasis in Ica, Peru, Huacachina was unlike any landscape I had ever experienced. If you’re traveling from Cuzco to Lima, or even around southern Peru, make sure to stop in Huacachina to go sand boarding and check out the lush oasis. We spent a lovely afternoon tumbling down the huge white dunes and admiring the random patch of greenery in the middle of the desert.
After a whirlwind of traveling and packing way too much into 4 days, I was overwhelmed by the idea of exploring Lima. Luckily we had some friends to show us around the city and take us to the beautiful Miraflores district. Lima definitely wasn't my favourite place, but the cuisine alone is a reason to visit this city. The ceviche here is UNREAL!
All in all, Peru is home to one of the greatest mysteries of the world, the best ceviche I've ever had, and one of the most unique desert landscapes I’ve ever seen. I left Peru in awe…and without a backpack. Seems I joined the ‘I was robbed in Peru..’ club after all.